Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Department or School/College

College of Education and Human Sciences

Committee Chair

Frances L. O'Reilly

Commitee Members

Roger Maclean, John Matt, William P. McCaw, Philip MacGregor


baccalaureate, community college, time-to-degree, transfer education, two-year college


University of Montana


Two-year college transfer education has been promoted as a cost-effective path for achieving the baccalaureate, but increased time-to-degree could nullify this assumption. The Montana University System (MUS) recently expanded the mission for its two-year college system by adding the transfer function.

This non-experimental quantitative research study examined whether a difference existed in baccalaureate time-to-degree for transfer students from MUS two-year colleges. Three years of MUS graduate data (2014 – 2016) was examined in comparing baccalaureate time-to-degree of non-transfer students (n = 5,953) with transfer students (n = 730). Credit accumulation, GPA, associate degree completion, nontraditional student status, and two-year college organization were also examined.

Baccalaureate time-to-degree took longer for transfer students (Mdn = 6 years) than non-transfer students (Mdn = 4 years, 1 semester) with a statistically significant difference (U = 1,137,872, p < 0.001, r = 0.26). Transfer students had larger credit accumulation (Mdn = 140 – 149 credits) than non-transfer students (Mdn = 130 – 139 credits), but experienced similar academic achievement as measured by grade point average (Mdn = 3.00 – 3.49). Students completing the AA/AS transfer degree in route to the baccalaureate did not experience longer time-to-degree than other transfer students, but AAS degree recipients did take longer. All associate degree completers had greater credit accumulations than other transfer students. No statistically significant differences were observed in baccalaureate time-to-degree or credit accumulation, for transfer students from embedded or independently organized college, or students of nontraditional age. Further observation into the effects of the two-year college transfer function is recommended.



© Copyright 2017 Thomas Patrick Gallagher